Calvary Road Baptist Church


Romans 1.28-31


To remind you where we are in the flow and context of Paul’s letter to the Romans, let me say again that Paul is apparently attempting to convince the Romans to allow him to use them as a base of operations to extend his ministry westward into Spain. Up to this point in his ministry, Antioch has been home base. But with the number of Churches that had been established in that region, and because Paul is a groundbreaking missionary, a pioneering missionary if you will, he now wants to move into an area where the Gospel had not penetrated. So he has written to the Romans, in part, to convince them of man’s great need for his Gospel and his ministry, to persuade them that Spain does need to have what he has to offer. And down through the passage that we again focus on today, he is describing the spiritual condition of one particular part of the human race that he refers to as “they.”

Whoever “they” are, “they” have an extremely serious problem. “They” knew God in some way and then turned their back on Him. “They” once acknowledged Him as the Creator, but then began to worship and serve created things instead. “They” even committed the folly of judging God and finding Him wanting. It doesn’t take a great deal of spiritual insight to realize that anyone who behaves in this manner has an extremely serious problem. But that’s not all of it. In response to such sins as these, we read that Paul declares that God “gave them up.”

Three times in Romans chapter one, in verse 24, in verse 26, and in verse 28, Paul states and then describes the consequences of God’s judgment in response to their sin. It is this last description, beginning in verse 28 and running through verse 31, with its long list of vices, that is presently occupying our attention. Stand with me as I read the text once again, Romans 1.28-31:


28    And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29    Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30    Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31    Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.


Collecting this list of vices into four sub-groupings of sins, filled, stuffed, puffed, and snuffed, we have already examined the sins of the first three sub-groupings. Today we look at the last sub-group; snuffed.

And why do I refer to this last sub-group as “snuffed?” Because this last group of vices seems to be what is left when sin has become so bad that the last remnants of real humanity are all but gone, snuffed out. Our perverse society would certainly fail to recognize the extreme seriousness of such sins as these. The spiritually mature child of God, however, will at once see that the seven sins concluding Paul’s list are perhaps the worst of the lot because these sins are the sins that destroy the last meaningful contacts with one’s fellow man.

Mankind is already cut off from God by the Fall. However, worsening the situation by the final rejection of God’s position as Creator and Lord over His creation, such people as commit the sins we now look at are those who, having succeeded in being isolated from God have, by committing these sins, isolated themselves from their fellow man, as well.

If, in Scripture, death is viewed as a separation, then in a very real sense these are seven deadly sins:




Have you noticed something about Paul’s list of vices that begins in verse 28? Did you notice that Paul’s list began with a list of sins that people commit and gradually, almost imperceptibly, changed into a list of what people are? The first type of person listed in this last sub-group of vices refers to a person who comes up with wicked things to do. He invents things to do that are wrong.

What’s unusual about this person is that most wicked people are groupies. Most wicked people like to commit sin with others to share blame and responsibility and convince themselves that it was the other guy’s fault. Most people who do things that are wrong are followers and not leaders. But this person is not a follower. He or she is a leader. Oh, you might not ever see inventors of evil things leading a mass or a group of people. But you will see them dreaming up wickedness to commit and then planting the bug in someone’s ear. And you might not ever see such a person doing horrible things. But you can bet that such a person as this sincerely loves to provoke others to evil works, sincerely enjoys stirring up the sinful impulses in others, and delights in seeing what he can get the fool who calls him a friend to do that will get the other guy in trouble.

How does such sin as this one commits cut him off from other people? Well, it doesn’t cut him off from fools. And it didn’t cut him off from his friends whose parents were weak and ineffective or inattentive when he was a teen. But this kind of behavior certainly will result in parental intervention by moms and dads who love their kids and who will land on anyone who tries to provoke their child to commit sin. And it will result in right thinking adults shying away from someone who is always thinking of nastiness, who is always thinking of wicked things to do, and who seems to be trouble looking for a place to happen.

How tragic it is that this person, perhaps with a capacity for creativity given to him by God, both rejects the God Who blessed him with such abilities and rejected his fellow man by using his creativity to do such harm, not only to those he despises but also to those he calls friends. If parents would intervene and isolate such a person while still young, perhaps the isolation that results, the loneliness, would curb such sinful tendencies. At the least, it would protect their children from the damaging consequences of having such a friend. Proverbs teaches that “the companion of fools shall be destroyed.”[1] And it’s this person’s friends that often feel the sting of sin before he does.




Turn to Luke 1.17 and read with me:


“And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”


The way this verse is worded, those who are disobedient are shown to be the very opposite of those who are just. Is this a mistake, or is the point to be made that those who are right with God are obedient to authority and those who are not right with God are also in rebellion against God-ordained authority, such as parents, teachers, and perhaps even the police? Speaking of authority, have you ever pondered the connection between honoring your mother and father and your days being long, and rebelling against them and having a relatively short lifespan? Both Old and New Testaments stress the relationship between the length of a person’s life and the honoring of his parents. But why is this so?

I am of the opinion that there are three factors at work to shorten the life span of the person who is disobedient to his parents. And I equate disobedience to parents with failing to honor them because there is no difference between honoring your parents and obeying them while you are a child living at home.

First, there is the rebellion against authority factor. Those who disobey their parents don’t live as long because of their rebellion against authority. Contrary to what many children think, parents who do not provoke their children to wrath are far easier to obey than any other God-ordained authority structure because of both familiarity and the motive of love. It is much easier to obey an authority that you are familiar with and love than one you do not love. So if you do not obey your parents, it is highly unlikely that you will obey other authorities, including obeying the law. Obviously, they are usually lawbreakers who are shot by police, who are killed in traffic accidents as a result of violating traffic laws, and who kill each other with gang violence or through drugs and alcohol.

Second, there is this thing called conscience. When you disobey your parents, you have committed sin. When you commit sin, you feel the guilt of condemnation. And the guilt of condemnation weighs heavily on the proper function of the human body. The absence of peace and harmony which results from disobedience causes a myriad of physical problems which doctors have recognized for a long time. According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, between 75% and 98% of all illnesses are the result of our thought life.[2] The Christian recognizes that such problems are usually the consequences of sin and associated guilt, all working together to increase hypertension, cause ulcers, increase the number of headaches and depression, and reduce the level of physical health.

Third, there is the direct involvement of evil spirits. When a person rebels against his parents, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, seeking repentance. But as well when a person rebels against his parents Satan or his demons enter the picture, condemning the person, attacking his perception of himself, and seeking to increase his alienation from the cause of Christ and other Christians. Ultimately, if the rebel does not repent of the serious sin he has committed, does not respond to the wooing of the Holy Spirit to humble himself, thoughts and plans of suicide planted into his mind by seducing spirits are almost a certainty. And, of course, if he goes through with the suicide his life span certainly has been shortened.

It is no stretch of the imagination to see how rebellion against parents leads to being cut off from those who of all men love you the most, but also leads to being ultimately cut off from men through antisocial behavior, premature death by various means, or even suicide.




The word translated “without understanding” has already been used by Paul here in Romans chapter one. In verse 21 the word is translated “foolish” and describes the heart of those who rejected God. In Matthew 15.16 the Lord Jesus Christ asks His disciples,


“Are ye also without understanding?”


And in Mark 7.18 He asks them once again. So apparently it is possible for a Christian to be senseless and foolish in this sense, but it certainly is not desirable or normal for a believer to be this way.

It is not at all difficult to understand why the lost person is without understanding, is senseless, is foolish, which are synonyms for this word. If you don’t recognize the most basic reality of Creator and creature, of Powerful and powerless, of Infinite and finite, then what will you recognize? And if you consider the way in which the Lord Jesus used the word when speaking to His disciples, it needs to be considered that the word may describe the ability to communicate in an intelligent manner to another human being. He spoke. They did not understand. He then asked them, “Are ye without understanding?”

This being true, we have another example of how such serious sin as this cuts one off from other human beings. The heart is so dark; the frame of reference required for interpersonal communication is so foreign to others, that you literally cannot effectively communicate with those around you. How sad. How lonely.




A synonym for this word would be someone who is faithless or someone who violates an agreement or a contract. Someone who says he will do one thing and then turns around and does another thing. This is the guy who says he will show up for an appointment but who seems never to show up on time, who agrees to perform a task but who repeatedly disappoints those who depend on him.

At the foot of Mount Sinai, God proposed a relationship between Himself and the children of Israel. Their response to what God had proposed was “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do,” Exodus 19.8. But did Israel keep her agreement? Consider what is found in Jeremiah 3.7-11:


7      And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.

8      And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

9      And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.

10    And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.

11    And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.


This is God’s description of a nation who has not kept her agreement with Him. The words that God uses to describe the nation that is a covenant breaker are treacherous, backsliding, adultery, and whoredom. Obviously, God despises the sin of violating an agreement and breaking your word.

But in our society today breaking your word, literally being a covenant breaker, is considered smart business. How many professional athletes decide in the second year of a three-year contract that they want to renegotiate their contract? You know what that is? That’s being a covenant breaker. But so is a person who says, “Right. I’ll be there at 5:00 o’clock.” But when 5:00 o’clock comes around the guy never shows up. Later, when you see him and ask where he was, he is likely to say, “Oh, something came up and we decided to do such and such instead.” Now, that’s fine so long as you’ve not committed yourself. But as soon as you go against your word with someone you are breaking a covenant. Correct?

And what does covenant breaking do for interpersonal relationships? It strains or severs them just like the previous sins will do. Result? Further isolation from your fellow man. Further loneliness. Further despair. Greater misery. Which is why James writes, “let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”[3]




This word is used only one other place in the entire New Testament, Second Timothy 3.1-5, where it is used to describe the particular behavior of the unsaved during the last days:


1      This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2      For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3      Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4      Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5      Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.


This is one of the most characteristic sins of our present age. “Without affection” simply refers to those who do not have the most basic and natural kind of love that any creature ought to have for another of its kind. One of the greatest heartaches of the Gospel ministry is not only to see the tragic consequences of this great sin in the lives of lost people, but to see numbers of born-again Christians, people that I love and pray for and groan in my heart for, who still have traces of this problem long after they have trusted Christ.

I understand that when a couple trusts Christ there are oftentimes great and burdensome debts and financial problems that take a considerable period to clean up, and that there are times that such situations are simply beyond the capacity of the husband to take care of as a man ought to without the help of his wife also earning money outside the home. And so often when both parents are working outside the home the child or children are placed into the care of another person. But understanding that for periods of time this must be done, how in the world can a parent turn her child over to the care of another, even a relative or close friend, knowing that God has not empowered that person to be the parent of that child? That it must sometimes be done is beyond dispute. But if it can be done without the most painful rending of the heart then there exists in the heart of the parent an absence of appropriate love for the child.

When a woman discovers that she has conceived and is with child there are an almost infinite number of emotional feelings and reactions that she can experience, as many of you ladies can attest to. Depending on whether she is married or not, depending on her financial situation, the number of children she already has, the difficulty of her last pregnancy, her age, and many other factors, the mother can either be happy or greatly upset at the discovery, or both at the same time if I read women correctly. But understand this: When a woman is pregnant she is already a mother. She already has a baby. That baby is just very tiny and very dependent upon mommy for protection, for nutrition, and even for love, before birth. With that in mind, can it be anything besides a complete lack of love, being without the natural affection that any woman ought to have for her child, that would make possible the destruction of that child through abortion? I think not. How about when a father divorces mommy and leaves her and the kids on the brink of poverty? How about when mommy runs off with another man? How about when a man or woman lives with someone he or she is not married to? How about when mothers give birth to children and leave them in dumpsters or airplanes or at the doors of hospitals? At the very least choose a good family and put the baby up for adoption.

Since Greek and Roman times when people left their children outside to die of exposure when they did not want them, and even before that when idolaters made their children pass through the fire as sacrifices to a false god, mankind has been a race that is generally without natural affection.

Christian? Are you without the natural affection that compels you to have an interest in the spiritual condition of those close to you? Mom, do you care enough about your kids to watch them grow up without concern for their eternal and undying souls? To watch them play without giving thought to where they will spend eternity? To be there when they need you to speak God’s truth to them? How about you, Dad? Or does your career come first? How about when your kids fall into horrible sin? Will your heart be broken, or will life go on? If you are without natural affection, you are a bit disappointed, but life goes on.




An implacable person is simply a person who will not reconcile with others. God help you if you cross this person. This person will never forget an offense, even if it’s not an offense committed against him. Just as with the others, we can see how this pattern of sin cuts you off from other human beings. Being sinners, every person commits sin against everyone else at some point in time in his or her life. That is the result of the human condition. The question is, what will you do when someone sins against you? The implacable person who is sinned against will not forgive. Instead, he will harbor evil thoughts against those who have done him wrong, and the bitterness will grow and fester, be they individuals or groups of people. This is the Hatfield and the McCoy syndrome. Should all Koreans hate all Japanese? Should all Jews hate all Germans? Should all Ukrainians hate all Russians? Should all Armenians hate all Turks? Should all Christians hate all Muslims? Should all Muslims hate all Jews? Really?

The Biblical remedy for this sin is found in Ephesians 4.32:


“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”


How tragic it is for the person who refuses to forgive. He gets more and more and more isolated from people the older he gets. And the only remedy, which is forgiveness, he refuses to consider.

Why will this individual not consider forgiveness? Because, not having been forgiven himself by God, he is unable to forgive those who sin against him.




These are those without mercy. And perhaps a definition of some Biblical terms is in order at this point. If grace is giving something to someone he does not deserve; mercy is not giving something to someone he does deserve. It was God’s mercy that resulted in believers not being sent to Hell, as we deserve. But it was God’s grace that resulted in us being given eternal life so we might enjoy heaven and the forgiveness of sins for all eternity.

Understand, never giving people what they deserve is folly and leads to licentious behavior, the unmerciful person always gives people what they deserve and never cuts anyone any slack. It is easy to understand how being unmerciful separates people rather than bringing them together. Sure, the rent needs to be paid on time. But the landlord who evicts the tenant who is behind on a payment one time in three years is clearly unmerciful. To be sure, a 10:00 o’clock curfew means 10:00 o’clock sharp. But the youngster who comes home on time or ahead of time for six solid months needs to be given a little bit of slack when he arrives home one minute after 10:00 PM. And I think you parents would agree. Otherwise, you provoke your children to wrath.


These seven sins are the worst, aren’t they? These sins, more than just about any others, really cut the offender off from people, really isolates that offending person’s life from others. And is that bad? Oh, yes it is. Cut off from other people means you are cut off from what few civilizing influences are left in society. Cut off from other people means you are cut off from the truth of the Gospel, which leads to salvation from these sins, and deliverance from the consequence of Hell. Did those people Paul wanted to minister to in Spain go to need his message? Did they need his ministry? If these sins describe in any way their spiritual condition the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

These sins also describe the condition of mankind today. People today need ministries similar to Paul’s. People today need the message that Paul preached. People need the Lord Jesus Christ that Paul offered. And by people, I mean your dad, your mom, your son, your daughter, your spouse, your siblings, your neighbors, and your coworkers. They need Christ.

How about you? Do you need the Lord, my lost friend? Then come to Him. And you who are saved. Are there still some of the sins and behavior patterns of the old you that are in your new life in Christ? Acknowledge those sins and repent of them, spending time with the Lord in prayer and His Word get back on track. How about you agree to come to a place of personal commitment tonight before you go home? How about committing yourself to doing something extraordinary to bring a lost loved one to a consideration of Christ? How is doing nothing working out? How is praying but not discussing Christ working? May I suggest that you prayerfully ask God for an opportunity to do something different to reach your lost loved one and then commit to doing something different when God presents an opportunity?


[1] Proverbs 13.20

[2] 9/29/16

[3] James 5.12

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